LULLABY (PART TWO)
He watched as her grip loosened on the handle, and she flew back in slow motion. Their eyes met for the briefest of moments and he could see her terror, which he knew was reflected in his own. He was yelling, and she was screaming; her death scream. The last sound she would make before her death.
There was a flash of golden light, and she was gone. The Void crumpled in on itself and he found himself on his feet, staring at a blank wall where, moments before, death had beckoned.
She was gone. And all that was left was the sound of the TARDIS, the Vortex, singing her song. Singing Rose's story.
She breathed. Alive, she could sense everything and everyone all at once. She knew this feeling. It was the Vortex; her. She was light, and she was life. She controlled everything in the universe, space and time.
She could feel herself, wrapped in unconditional love and comfort. Someone was singing to her, singing without words. Singing a story of life, love and loss.
She was in the TARDIS.
The Doctor entered the TARDIS, moving over to a column and sliding down with his back to it until he hit the floor. His face in his hands, he fought a losing battle over his emotions and felt tears sliding down his face as the TARDIS carried on singing. She was singing about life, love and loss, caressing his mind and soothing his pain and fears.
After a while, the Doctor's mind slid into a realm of peace as the TARDIS carried singing through their mental link, and suddenly he heard another voice join TARDIS. Another voice, familiar.
He was sliding further and further into the darkness, and without realising it being soothed into sleep. As the two voices sung, his body was lifted and gently carried by unseen hands to his room, and placed on his bed.
"Doctor, I'm here."
"Rose, where are you?"
"I'm here, Doctor."
"Don't go, Rose, I'm coming to find you."
"I won't, Doctor. I can't. I won't leave you again."
"Where are you, Rose? Tell me."
"I'm still here. All around you."
He knew. "You're the TARDIS."
The Doctor awoke, gasping and shaking. The room was silent around him, and he shook his head briefly, telling himself it was just one of those weird dreams he has.
Rose was dead. He had seen it happen. But had he? The flash of light. He thought it had been the final flash of a life. The final flash before a life is taken – a special life, in this case.
But he had seen that light before. And as he thought harder, about golden lights, time and Bad Wolf, he heard the whispering.
"Rose? Is that you?"
Suddenly he felt compelled to run to the control room. He leapt of his bed (he noticed he was still fully clothed) and ran down corridors in a direction only known to him. His feet pounded on the floor, and as he approached the control room, he heard the singing again. The haunting whispered notes, telling him many different things. The TARDIS sang to people, to soothe them, to heal them or to gently guide them to death. She would sing war cries, stories and lullabies. She was singing a different tune this time. She told of new life, of resurrection and of love. And there was a voice singing with her. The same voice he'd heard before. The voice he knew so well.
As he entered the control room, he noticed a panel was open on the other side of the console. There was light streaming out, wisps floating around and almost reaching out to him, telling him to come closer.
Do not look into me. I do not wish to harm you.
TARDIS was speaking to him, whilst the haunting notes continued in that familiar voice. He stayed on his side of the room, knowing he was protected by the console, but even then the light grew brighter. He raised his arm to shield his eyes and squinted against it, watching as a silhouette formed and approached him. The light subsided, but remained at its previous intensity, and as his eyes adjusted he noticed the figure had glowing eyes – she was the Vortex personified.
"Who are you? Why are you doing this?" he asked Time. She had only once before taken a body, and that was when Rose had looked into the Vortex and taken Time into herself, and then had been transferred into his Ninth incarnation.
This is what you want. I belong to you. It was not my time to die.
He frowned. The voice was not TARDIS anymore. It had undertones of...
I am being returned to you. I was saved by Time. She knew it was not my time to go. She rescued me from the Void; took me into her until I could be given back. It is time to come back to you.
"I don't understand..."
I was an unnecessary sacrifice. I did not need to die for humanity. I am here for a much greater purpose; one which has yet to be fulfilled. I will stay with you until that time comes.
"I – Rose..." he found he was incoherent. Too much had happened too soon, and he was still trying to recover from the shock of losing his closest friend.
Doctor. My Doctor.
And then the Vortex closed. The light disappeared from Rose's eyes as she slumped forward, and in the background the light faded and the console panel shut. But the Doctor was more focused on the living, breathing human in his arms as he neatly caught her and sank to the ground, cradling her. Her eyes fluttered, and she slowly gazed up to meet his eyes.
"Oh, God, Rose." He hugged her, tightly, and she clung to him.
"What's going on? Where's Mum?" Her voice was muffled by his jacket but neither of them let go.
"She's in the parallel universe, with the others. They no longer exist in your world. What else can you remember?"
"I tried to keep the Void open...then I lost my grip...then...Oh my God, I died."
"No, you didn't die."
She thought for a moment, then shook her head. "No, TARDIS saved me. I was – oh."
He knew what she had remembered. She had been the Vortex for a while. Now more than ever they were part of each other – Rose had become the Vortex and the Vortex had chosen her as a vessel.
"Don't ever do that again, Rose Tyler."
She giggled. "I won't. Time won't let me. I know I'm here for a reason, but I don't know what. She won't tell me."
"You're still linked?"
"Yeah. She says I should always hear her because she needs me. I can't die. I'm not immortal but I mustn't die. I have the protection and healing of Time through TARDIS." Rose squinted – the Doctor could feel her scrunch her face up against his jacket as he buried his face into her hair. "My head hurts."
"I'll bet it does. I think you need a Doctor."
"You know what? I think I do."
They sat there, in silence, clinging to each other as if they were lifelines in a drowning world.
And TARDIS sang them a lullaby.